Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 13.djvu/305
304 Southern Historical Society Papers.
canister, and swept that bridge until near five hundred of the enemy were laid on or about it. Ord was wounded and his army held in check. Cabell's brigade (Arkansians) rapidly formed up on the right of Russ's, and though the two combined did not exceed twelve hundred men, they checked every attempt of the enemy to cross, and steadily held their ground, until after several hours they were ordered to retire. It is only just to these gallant troops to say that they saved Van Dorn's army that day.
The whole of our train, about five hundred wagons, and our army now lay in the forks of the Hatchie. The Tuscumbia river, crossed only by a bridge, was in our rear, and the Hatchie river and bridge in our front. On our left flank, six miles distant, was another bridge crossing the Hatchie by what is called the " Boneyard road" to Ripley. Early in the day Armstrong had been sent with his cavalry brigade to guard this road and destroy the bridge. He had begun the destruction of the bridge when he heard the sounds of battle at the Davis' s bridge, and with a soldier's instinct understood at once the condition of affairs. He sent a courier to Van Dorn to say that he might turn the train and army into the Boneyard road, and he would have the bridge repaired by the time they would reach it. This was promptly done, and when all were fairly on the new route, Maury was ordered to withdraw from his position and follow the train. By 10 P. M. we were all safely over the Hatchie and without the loss of a wagon. The night was clear, the moon was full, and we, relieved from the danger of capture which had seemed inevitable, marched so lightly along our road that by daylight we were bivou- acked eighteen miles beyond the Hatchie river, while Ord with eight thousand men guarded Davis's bridge, and Rosecrantz with twenty thousand men watched the Tuscumbia bridge, neither of them doubt- ing that in the morning we would surrender without another shot on the appearance of the summons they would send us.
Never did an army more narrowly escape than did Van Dorn's from the forks of the Hatchie. Before Ord's guns had ceased firing on our advance Rosecrantz had attacked our rear at the Tuscumbia. They could each hear the other's artillery; and ignorant of the existence of the Boneyard road, they seemed to have felt secure of their prey and indisposed to press an enemy at bay, whose prowess they had such good reason to respect After this they made no energetic pursuit, and we continued on our march towards Holly Springs without further molestation.
At Holly Springs five thousand exchanged prisoners taken at Fort